Navigation Links
Body movements can influence problem solving, researchers report
Date:5/12/2009

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Swinging their arms helped participants in a new study solve a problem whose solution involved swinging strings, researchers report, demonstrating that the brain can use bodily cues to help understand and solve complex problems.

The study, appearing in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, is the first to show that a person's ability to solve a problem can be influenced by how he or she moves.

"Our manipulation is changing the way people think," said University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, who conducted the study with Vanderbilt University postdoctoral researcher Laura Thomas, his former graduate student. "In other words, by directing the way people move their bodies, we are unbeknownst to them directing the way they think about the problem."

Even after successfully solving the problem, almost none of the study subjects became consciously aware of any connection between the physical activity they engaged in and the solution they found.

"The results are interesting both because body motion can affect higher order thought, the complex thinking needed to solve complicated problems, and because this effect occurs even when someone else is directing the movements of the person trying to solve the problem," Lleras said.

The new findings offer new insight into what researchers call "embodied cognition," which describes the link between body and mind, Lleras said.

"People tend to think that their mind lives in their brain, dealing in conceptual abstractions, very much disconnected from the body," he said. "This emerging research is fascinating because it is demonstrating how your body is a part of your mind in a powerful way. The way you think is affected by your body and, in fact, we can use our bodies to help us think."

In the study, the researchers asked study subjects to tie the ends of two strings together. The strings dangled from ceiling rafters and were so far apart that a person grasping one could not reach the other. A few tools were also available: a paperback book, a wrench, two small dumbbells and a plate. Subjects were given a total of eight, two-minute sessions to solve the problem, with 100 seconds devoted to finding a solution, interrupted by 20 seconds of exercise.

"Our cover story was that we were interested in the effects of exercise on problem-solving," Lleras said.

Some subjects were told to swing their arms forward and backward during the exercise sessions, while others were directed to alternately stretch one arm, and then the other, to the side. To prevent them from consciously connecting these activities to the problem of the strings, the researchers had them count backwards by threes while exercising. (To see videos of the problem-solving and exercise sessions, click on the video links.)

The subjects in the arm-swinging group were more likely than those in the stretch group to solve the problem, which required attaching an object to one of the strings and swinging it so that it could be grasped while also holding the other string. By the end of the 16-minute deadline, participants in the arm-swinging group were 40 percent more likely than those in the stretch group to solve the problem.

"By making you swing your arms in a particular way, we're activating a part of your brain that deals with swinging motions," Lleras said. "That sort of activity in your brain then unconsciously leads you to think about that type of motion when you're trying to solve the problem."

Previous studies of embodied cognition have demonstrated that physical movements can aid in learning and memory or can change a person's perceptions or attitudes toward information, Lleras said.

Other studies by Lleras and his colleagues also have shown that directing a person's eye movements or attention in specific patterns can also aid in solving complex problems, but this is the first study to show that directed movements of the body can, outside of conscious awareness, guide higher-order cognitive processing, he said.

"We view this as a really important new window into understanding the complexity of human thought," he said. "I guess another take-home message is this: If you are stuck trying to solve a problem, take a break. Go do something else. This will ensure that the next time you think about that problem you will literally approach it with a different mind. And that may help!"


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Using tools requires that the brain is able to control movements
2. Prune juice not necessary: New research should make bowel movements easier
3. Study indicates how we make proper movements
4. Meditative Movements(TM), State-of-the-Art Fitness Guidebook, Now Available
5. Trauma experienced by a mother even before pregnancy will influence her offsprings behavior
6. New Almond Study Finds Chewing is More Than Meets the Mouth: Thorough Chewing May Influence Feelings of Fullness
7. What influences womens opinions on their breast surgery?
8. Type of connection procedure after pancreatic surgery influenced rate of pancreatic fistula
9. For Alzheimers Disease, Surveyed Neurologists Identify a Therapys Effect on Cognitive Decline as the Attribute That Most Influences Their Prescribing Decisions
10. Statins may exert influence on prostate cancer growth by reducing inflammation
11. DDB Worldwide and M/A/R/C Research Find in Time of Economic Crisis: Health Is the New Wealth, Survey Shows Empowering Patients Is Key to Influence
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the ... several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern ... Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He ... Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may suffer from a ... such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To avoid this pain ... following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a range of emotions, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... for accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of ... AcceleDent, and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute Beauty ... Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest partner. ... and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be invisible.” ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... VEGAS , June 26, 2016 ... to value-based care operating models within the health care ... enable greater financial efficiency , Deloitte offers a ... the key business issues impacting efficient cost optimization: labor ... , These services facilitate better outcomes and better ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Bay ... Rehabilitation Network,s Dean Center for Tick Borne ... Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University of ... Innovation, today announced the five finalists of ... Lyme disease.  More than 100 scientists, clinicians, researchers, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... BEIJING , June 24, 2016 Dehaier ... or the "Company"), which develops, markets and sells medical ... China , signed a strategic cooperation agreement with ... as "Hongyuan Supply Chain") on June 20, 2016, to ... Under the strategic cooperation agreement, Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: